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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Understanding ADHD

Treating ADHD

Currently available treatments aim at reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education and training, or a combination of treatments.

boy covering eyes with hands

Medications

Stimulants, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, are the most common type of medication used for treating ADHD. Although it may seem counterintuitive to treat hyperactivity with a stimulant, these medications actually activate brain circuits that support attention and focused behavior, thus reducing hyperactivity. In addition, a few non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine, guanfacine, and clonidine, are also available. For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medications also may improve physical coordination.

Do medications cure ADHD?

Current medications do not cure ADHD. They control the symptoms for as long as they are taken. Medications can help a child pay attention and complete schoolwork. NIMH-funded research has shown that medication works best when the prescribing doctor regularly monitors treatment and the dose is adjusted based on the child's needs.

Psychotherapy

Different types of psychotherapy are used for ADHD. Behavioral therapy aims to help a child change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a child how to monitor his or her own behavior. Therapists may teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.

How can parents help?

Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed in school. Before a child is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family. Parents and children may need special help to overcome bad feelings. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it impacts a family. They also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.

Read More "Understanding ADHD" Articles

Causes of ADHD / Symptoms In Children / Treating ADHD / Adults with ADHD

Spring 2014 Issue: Volume 9 Number 1 Page 18